I am overwhelmed with mixed feelings as caterpillar season comes to a close. One by one, I clean my rearing containers, as the last of my butterflies start their new life by soaring out my kitchen window. I still check every milkweed, hoping to find a late season juicer, consoling myself that it wouldn’t have survived the migration anyways. I satisfy myself by examining the lady bug larvae, milkweed bugs, and the carpet of aphids.
I am totally addicted to the hunt. No matter that it’s a humid 90 degrees. You will still find me in ditches and gravel roadsides, feeding the mosquitos. I know I can’t raise all the livestock I find; I delight in giving it away to newbies, who fret over every little detail, and who need more support and information than a father left alone with his newborn baby.
It’s a relief, really. I spent way too much time hunting in tick and nettle infested meadows for those tiny sesame seed like eggs. I took thousands of photos, only to delete ninety five percent of them. Always searching for the ever elusive perfect shot. Finally, we’ll have the dining room table back, and I won’t be wandering in there every hour, lest I miss something dramatic happening in the rearing container.
And then there’s Facebook. What are my butterfly friends up to? Who has discovered something new? Is there a macro shot of a butterfly’s brush feet that I haven’t seen? A new angle? A stunning background? At least I still have my last two polyphemus caterpillars. They are a delight. The live in an open top salad container beside my computer, where I can listen to them chomp Manitoba Maple all day. They continue to eat when I pick them up, and they don’t run away. If they don’t start their cocoons soon, their frass will be as big as peas!
Today was a bloodbath on the trail near my home. At least 20 woolly bears did not survive the crossing, succumbing to bicycle tires and people feet. I did manage to save a dozen of them. I will amuse myself during the next three weeks by following the challenges and triumphs of the MONARCH ULTRA run, while doing my best to get them the attention and housing they deserve.
Next winter, I’ll visit Texas, where butterfly season never ends.